Considered a cheater in many circles, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick’s practices will be under the microscope again.
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The New England Patriots are once again under investigation by the NFL for possible cheating practices; this time they are accused of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship game.
Via Bob Glauber of Newsday, the NFL has confirmed the existence of an investigation regarding whether the balls were properly inflated in the AFC title game.
Rule 2 of the official NFL rule book requires that each team make “12 primary balls available for testing” two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. The home team must make 12 backup balls available, and the visiting team may bring another 12 backup balls for games to be played outdoors.
Several years ago, in an effort to prevent any doctoring of balls used in the kicking game, the NFL adopted a rule that six new, specially-marked kicking balls would be used for each game, with the boxes opened by the officials two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.
The existence of the investigation, as initially reported by Bob Kravitz of WTHR-TV in Indianapolis, suggests that the referee failed to properly check the specifications of the balls, the referee didn’t properly secure the balls before they were given to the ball attendant, or something happened to the balls after they were given to the ball attendant.
Patriots QB Tom Brady called the charges “ridiculous.”
“I think I’ve heard it all at this point,” Brady said. “That’s the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”
In 2007 the Patriots were fined and forfeited a draft pick for recording opposing teams’ playcalling signals in practice. The incident was infamously referred to as SpyGate.